Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cornwall Loves Me

In The Tin Shed Caption, I proposed that the Drill Hall in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, should be included in the TV series Britain's Favourite Views. This has caused quite a stir down in Pastyland.  Humble Drill Hall Wins TV Man's Vote screams the headline in This Is Cornwall. I am not a TV man, but I shall let that pass. In addition, I have a long, informative email from Gwyneth Roberts of Knutsford, Cheshire. She has collected 3,600 drill halls. The whole email is appended as a comment. She remarks that Lostwithiel doesn't strike her as 'the most spectacular drill hall' she's ever seen. All I can say is that it's MY drill hall.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. i feel this is the start of your own reality TV show, which will be titled, simply, "Appleyard: TV Man". It will consist of you talking ironically & semi-ironically about things that other people are in deadly earnest about. In the end no one will have a clue as to what is reality & what isn't, and each programme will collapse into an aporia of Beckettian disillusion, with you staring bleakly at the camera, caption rolls on "Appleyard: TV Man".

  3. Love it, Elberry, I am already working on the proposal.

  4. And it must, of course, be on the radio.

  5. Shome mishtake shurely.... A minor blip! This is what I said.

    Hello Bryan

    At last someone has recognised the power of the poor old unrecognised, unappreciated, forgotten, overlooked Drill Hall to enthral and engage. My friend and I have 3600 of them to rescue: or, to be accurate, a database of 3600 which we are trying to e-save before the town planners and the bulldozers move in.

    I don't know how serious you were about Lostwithiel. I haven't been there myself, but we have photos of it and I can't say that it struck me as the most spectacular drill hall I've ever seen. I suspect it has a problem with damp and rust, and it needs investment, and it looks like a run-down old thing, very much in the manner of other run-down old things which that particular owner seems to allow to decay to the point at which restoration is not an option.

    Nevertheless, it was important in its day. These buildings, these old drill halls, were part of the infrastructure of the community. Every neighbourhood is anchored in its buildings, which include its churches, civic buildings, premises connected with utilities, schools, shops and hospitals, which have had to be deliberately planned for and provided. In the era prior to and including the Great War, the list of cornerstone buildings included the drill halls and this is part of their significance and importance.

    Drill halls were buildings which mattered to every community in a way we cannot imagine now. It's hard to tell how many of the contemporary population gave much thought to the truth that their proud buildings were part of a scheme which could mobilise on a national scale every man in every community to fight in a war, if required. The drill halls were a vital part of local young men’s journey to the battlefields of the Great War and for many of the men on local war memorials, the drill hall would have been their last point of contact with their home. Whether the drill hall was a simple covered space or a crenellated toy fort, they are a poignant and profound link with the past.

    So I have to congratulate you on the perspicacity and insight which led you to highlight Lostwithiel's poor little drill hall as an integral, valuable part of its street scene. I say that with sincerity, not cynicism. If you would like to see some more of our collection of time-expired old buildings, they are online at . It's a work in progress, so if your favourite town is not there, I apologise. I see you originate from Manchester; we have some excellent material (Ardwick and Ashton-u-Lyne come to mind) but unfortunately it isn't online yet.

    Meanwhile, I shall watch with interest to see reactions to your proposal.

    With best wishes

    Gwyneth Roberts